Wall Street Takes Biggest Drop Since August


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The markets took a beating on Thursday as traders fretted about the Federal Reserve's policy plans and braced for the October jobs report due out Friday.

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Today's Markets

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 152 points, or 0.97%, to 15594, the S&P 500 declined 23.3 points, or 1.3%, to 1747 and the Nasdaq Composite tumbled 74.3 points, or 1.9%, to 3857.

Every sector was to the downside on the day, leading the broad S&P 500 to take its biggest loss since August, on a percent basis.

Amid all the conversation about the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program, the ECB surprised market participants by taking a play from the traditional monetary policy play book. The powerful central bank sliced its main refinancing rate by 0.25 percentage point to a record low of 0.25%. The move was initially bullish, but then sentiment changed in afternoon action.

"The ECB’s move may have inadvertently set off a currency… competition," said Michael Block, chief strategist at Rhino Trading Partners. He said the move, which put the euro under heavy selling pressure, muddles Wall Street's view on the Fed's next move, since the central bank "has to respond.

Block added that the central bank uncertainty, mixed with worries ahead of the all-important monthly jobs report Friday, makes the perfect cocktail to push traders to "rush for the exits."

Elsewhere on the economic front, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 2.8% in the third quarter, topping estimates of 2%.

The Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 336,6000 from an upwardly revised 345,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to fall to 335,000 from an initially reported 340,000.

Both gauges will help guide the Fed as it determines when to begin paring back its giant bond-buying program.

On the corporate front, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) debuted on NYSE Euronext's (NYSE:NYX) New York Stock Exchange at $45.10, after pricing at $26 on Wednesday evening.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures fell 53 cents, or 0.56%, to $94.27 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slumped 1.8% to $2.503 a gallon. In metals, gold dipped $11.10, or 0.77%, to $1,307 a troy ounce.

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